The Flames’ 2015 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualification dream was shattered cruelly last night after a barren draw against Ethiopia’s Walias in Addis Ababa.
So it is Mali’s Eagles who secured the second group B slot after ending Algeria’s remarkable run with a 2-0 win in Bamako.
The Flames needed nothing short of a win to have a realistic chance of sailing through and given their poor away record, they gave it their best shot, but it was not enough and it was never going to be.
They finished on third position with seven points and the hopes for the overall best third-placed team appeared a far-fetched dream.
The 15 million population, which looked forward to an all-night celebration, sadly plunged into mourning last night after the Flames failed, for the umpteenth time, at the final hurdle as it was in Machava in Mozambique (1997) and then Ndj’amena Chada (2011), just to mention, but a few.
While the defence comprising Limbikani Mzava, Harry Nyirenda, Francis Mulimbika and John Lanjesi was rock-solid and stood out to be counted, the midfield, as monitored on MBCtv, was out of sorts.
Goalkeeper Mac Donald Harawa also put up a superb man-of-the-match display.
In the 54th minute, he made a heroic save with one hand from a Bekere Kodo attempt just when it looked doom for the Flames.
Coach Young Chimodzi told Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) that the Flames were out of sorts.
“Game yinativuta, but even when it is tough, you expect to utilise the chances you create,” said Chimodzi.
So, it is back to square one.